A Bali Myna, one of the world’s rarest — and some say most beautiful — birds were hatched this month at the Topeka Zoo.
The Asian songbird was born July 2 at the Topeka Zoo, where it lives in the Tropical Rainforest.
The birth boosts that facility’s number of members of the critically endangered species to three, said Joe Maloney, who works at the zoo with invertebrates and in the rainforest.
Bali mynas are among the most vocal birds in that rainforest, where their distinctive plumage and calls make them easily recognizable, he said.
‘Breeding in zoos may be its only hope for survival’
The critically endangered Bali myna is “one of the most beautiful birds in the world, with its striking snow white feathers, lacy head crest and blue eye patch,” says the website of the Cincinnati Zoo.
The population of Bali Mynas in the wild has been reduced by habitat loss and illegal trapping carried out to acquire them to be caged songbirds, said Taylor Miller, the Topeka Zoo’s communications coordinator.
“Only a handful of mynas, highly coveted by collectors, remain in the wild,” says the Cincinnati Zoo website. “Breeding in zoos may be its only hope for survival.”
Mynas eat fruit, seeds, invertebrates
Bali mynas can grow up to 10 inches long, and live only in Bali, a province of Indonesia, according to the Cincinnati Zoo website.
Their diet consists of fruit, seeds and invertebrates, it says.
Females of the species tend to lay one to three eggs but usually only one will survive, Miller said.
“They are cavity nesters, so the chick is currently located in a special box built by keepers,” she said.
The box simulates a cavity nest but allows enough space for animal care staff to keep a close eye on them, Miller said.
“The mom and dad are excellent parents and you can regularly catch glimpses of them carrying food to their nesting area,” said Wrylie Guffey, animal curator at the Topeka Zoo.
Mynas are inquisitive, active birds who “always appear to know what is going on around the rainforest,” Guffey said.
Bali Mynas begin flying when they are 3-4 weeks old and become fully independent when they are 6-7 weeks old, Miller said.
‘We may name this chick in the future’
The gender of the infant hatched July 2 isn’t yet known, and it hasn’t been named, Maloney said.
The infant’s parents also haven’t been named, as it isn’t uncommon for songbirds to not receive names, he said.
“We may name this chick in the future, but that has not been determined yet,” Maloney said.
The infant’s father is just under 3 years old and arrived at the zoo about two months ago specifically to breed with its female Bali myna, Maloney said.
“The mother Bali is a little older than him, at 7 years of age, and has been at the Topeka Zoo for almost five years now,” he said.
That female last gave birth to a Bali myna five years ago, he said. The chick born July 2 is half-siblings with the chick born five years ago, who is no longer at the Topeka Zoo.
Tim Hrenchir can be reached at email@example.com or 785-213-5934.